“Who trusts blogs?” It’s the wrong question

Yet another survey came out this month providing comfort to those who still refuse to believe that new media forms like blogs represent a genuine threat to their businesses.

Only 18% of people questioned trusted “personal blogs”, while 39% trusted radio or magazines and 46% print newspapers.

I get this sort of stat thrown at me every time I speak to rooms full of journalists. It’s a meaningless stat, reflecting nothing. You trust what you’ve learned to trust, whether that’s one paper over another, one broadcaster over another, or one blog over another. I don’t trust “newspapers” – I trust one or two. I don’t trust “blogs”, I trust the ones I’ve communicated with.

And that’s where individual blogs have an advantage: they can have a personal conversation with the reader. The author can enter into discussion, add corrections and links. Their trust is built on a relationship, not on a brand.

More interesting in this research are the 3 sources which come out as more trusted than mainstream media: Emails from people we know (how many of us feel we ‘know’ a particular blogger?); consumer reviews (a staple of blogs); and, curiously, portals/search engines (links). And why do people trust these more than ‘radio’ or ‘newspapers’?

10 thoughts on ““Who trusts blogs?” It’s the wrong question

  1. Jon Clements

    Early adopters of blogging (bloggers and readers) no doubt see it as intrinsic to their lives. But for the majority of people, the traditional modes of getting and sharing information prevail. Which is why I’m not convinced the research is representative, as the numbers reading and trusting blogs will be automatically lower.

    However I’m not surprised about the low ranking for company blogs, as there seem to be few UK examples of corporate blogging done well. There’s an opportunity there, but it seems to remain difficult for marketing and communications departments to take the plunge.

  2. Pemo Theodore

    I guess the question really is who trusts the old media???? Anyone who has any to do with them from the inside knows how much bullshit they can serve up in the name of sensationalism. I also know how destructive that bullshit can be to humans. I think most blogs do not have investment in the sensationalism that the old media do & therefore often can be more authentic. Bloggers have a new foundation & integrity is more important than sensationalism with new media.

  3. Pingback: Who do you trust? « LudditeJourno

  4. Rick Wilson

    Who trusts, blogs, print, or radio? is a meaningless question. It’s like asking who trusts bankers, politicians or doctors?

    Who trusts my blog? is a much more useful question. I’ve been writing a community news blog in Laurel, MD since 2005. Bloggers build trust one post at a time, just like any print columnist or TV reporter. The building blocks are the also the same, fairness, accuracy, transparency and a consistent perspective.

    Blogging, at least in a small town, where your readers know you personally, is all about trust. Maybe more than any other journalistic endeavor. See http://conexshuns.blogspot.com/

  5. Tracy @ WSB

    May be a meaningless survey but it does point up something we have been saying as loudly as we can, for a while now: The word “blog” still has some serious baggage.

    I would like to see us ALL get away from using it as a description of anything more than a publishing format. We have a community news website that evolved from a more classic “blog” so it still — for now — has “blog” in its name, but every time someone wants to talk to us about our “blog,” I preface it with, “it’s a commercial, journalist-run neighborhood-news site.”

    Even more than the importance of moving away from calling every blog-format site a “blog” — stop calling people who write for blog-format sites “bloggers.” Like it or not, that word also has baggage that tends to make it easier for people to trivialize/marginalize writers. Would you call everyone who writes for a newspaper a “newspaperer”? Or everyone who broadcasts a “televisioner” or “radioer”?

    Let’s be more descriptive about the people we are talking about, including ourselves. Example: We are neighborhood journalists who publish (our site). Maybe you are a diarist who publishes (site X) or writes for (site Y). Or a crusader, or a social-media evangelist, or a lawyer, or a humorist, or … Get yourself more cred and use a few extra words to describe what you do, rather than calling yourself (or letting others describe you as) a “blogger.”

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  7. James

    We may bracket individual operators higher or lower, but that doesn’t stop us all having stereotypical views on the trustworthiness of estate agents, lawyers, police, etc. that serve as a starting point. What makes blogs so special?
    It may be an inconvenient question, but it’s the one that most advertisers are going to be asking too. In commercial terms businesses do look at the medium, although hopefully they do delve a little deeper into the specifics too.
    As for “Their trust is built on a relationship, not on a brand” – how do brands get their power, if not by building a relationship? The brand might be an individual name, but it can still be powerful – ask Mr Rick Waghorn, late (metaphorically) of this parish.
    I think I’m with Tracy @ WSB though. “Blog” is a fairly worthless term in isolation, as it covers so many sins.

    Oh, and @Pemo Theodore – Traditional media has many faults but “Bloggers have a new foundation & integrity is more important than sensationalism with new media”? Does that uber-balancing act include Drudge? All formats have the potential to be good and bad.

  8. Pemo Theodore

    Yes you are right James, I should have worded my comment clearer. Of course any medium can be exploited & manipulated. I should have said that the standard is not pressuring as much on bloggers for sensationalism and that being a new form of media there are less rules & more creativity can be applied. Can is the operative word here though of course! Human nature can go either way in anything. You have spotted the fact that I tend to be a little too idealistic in my views about the world. The rules are different & there aren’t as many in the blogging world as in traditional media. Thanks for waking me up James, appreciated that! Pemo


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